Image: Representational

TDN World Desk: Covid lockdown has manifolded the distress of the oppressed Dalits in Tamil Nadu. Since first phase of lokdown, which began on mrach 25, more than 30 major incidents of caste-based violence occured in the state, as claimed by Madurai-based NGO Evidence.

As reported by News 18, in last four days only four dalits were killed. Caste-based violence has also incresed and the culprits are roaming free as court has ruled that the accused need not to attend the hearing due to coronavirus lockdown.

Kathir, who is executive director of Evidence group, told media, “In a lot of incidents, there are 40-50 people attacking in groups. How is this possible in a lockdown?”

“In the last four days, four Dalits have been murdered. Honour killings, group attacks, murders, rape and harassment have all happened. They say domestic violence has increased in the society. Caste-based violence has also increased now, and the victims are not even able to complain properly due to the lockdown. Under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, if the accused moves for bail, they have to intimate the victim. The High Court has now said accused don’t need to appear because of the virus. Now people are using this in their favour and moving for bail. Government should take a policy decision on this.”

Four particula Murder cases in 4 days

The evidence group claimed that four particular cases of murder took place against the Dalits and lower-castes in just four days.

M Sudhakar who hailed from Morappanthangal village in Arani, was murdered on March 29. Sudhakar belonged to the Oddar caste. His ofence was to love his love a girl who belonged to the Vanniyar caste. Two accused, including the woman’s father have been arrested in the case.

On May 8, three dalits were murdered. Two in Udayakulam village in Tuticorin.On the same day in Salem, Vishnupriyan, a Dalit, was murdered by upper caste groups, Evidence says.

Social Boycott

In Nilakottai the upper-caste people have boycotted the Dalits community saying they are not hygienic people. They people are in severe misery since most of them don’t have bathrooms in their houses. Government latrines are not useable. They are forced to defecate in open space.

Openning of liquor shops adds to the woe

The Central government’s allowance to open liquor shops has furthe marginalising the poor Dalit communities.

“They say TASMAC revenue hit Rs 175 crore on the first day it was opened. At least 80 per cent of that would have come through the poorest of poor people. They’re people who struggle for food, so it’s likely that the money is from loans. Two Dalits were murdered in Thoothukudi because of this. It’s a cycle and it’s all linked,” says Kathir